There are ways to cut back on expenses while traveling. Personally, I will splurge on the occasional nice meals & the comfortable flight or the sleeper bus, but a few ways to cut costs are:

– Eat on the cheap

– Travel overland

– Buy local flights/trains/buses once you’re there

– Pick a cheap destination!

Obviously, consider cheaper regions to travel like Asia or South America or India but also remember that even though its cheaper once you land, the tickets to those places are most likely more expensive. Keep in mind to opt for off the beaten path choices, because places less traveled and overrun by tourists are rarely going to have tourist prices. Obviously a carribean beach vacation will be more expensive than say Eastern European beach destinations. Check out a travel social network such as TripnTale to see other traveler’s photos and experience, and get tips from other travelers there.

– Couchsurfing

Get some culture, get to know a local, and get to stay for free!

– Stay longer & rent a cheap place

AirBnBHomeAwayStay Rentals are great resources and Transitions Abroad has a great list for rental sites in specific countries.

– Stay in Hostels

Gone are the days of hostels being solely being dirty bed bug infested places, (i mean, there are still tons like that) but now, hostels are hipper, nicer, places where you get to meet a lot of interesting folks! (especially in Europe!)

Hostel Bookers & Hostel World are two great sites to check out.

– Utilize strong search engines that search other search engines

Kayak.comMobissimo and 

(I don’t know how true this is but in my experience, Kayak is best for US flights, Mobissimo for international flights and skyscanner for South America)

– Use Bing’s Farecast

Farecast provides you with a graph of fares over a period of time so you can buy when its lowest)

– Use Budget airline options via Which Budget

Their search engine isn’t a traditional search engine. It doesn’t generally list prices but you’ll know about airlines you’ve never heard of before just by entering the city you’re looking to fly to.

– Call the airline

For SOME reason, even thorough search engines fail to show the lower rates. It pays off to call the airline directly because the person on the other line will tell you what fares they have that are cheapest for what you are looking for.

– Utilize frequent flyer miles

Pretty straightforward but there are cards out there with insane benefits that you can really use for travel (CapitalOne has great cash rewards cards that you can use on anything, check out NerdWallet for credit card recs.) Also FlyerTalk is a great forum for frequent flyer miles discussions.

Also, if you have a frequent flyer account of an airline that is in One World or Star Alliance (alliances of multiple worldwide airlines) – generally you can keep that number and tack on all your flights’ points from different airlines into that FF account if they’re within that network.

– Explore Home Stays

Get in touch with organizations that can put you in touch with a host family. You will get to know a place well this way, but it is definitely more about an extended stay. Take a look at Worldwide HomestayHomestay Booking and Homestay Finder.

– Swap homes

If you live in a major US city, its great leverage to find options to do a house swap with someone abroad. Sites like Home Exchange and Home for Swap are dedicated to home swaps.

– Be a caretaker

Another long stay option – if you want to  be based out of a place for awhile is to be a caretaker. Tons of homeowners with second homes want someone to watch their homes when they’re away. To take care of the pets, the garden, to keep the house safe in general. The Caretaker Gazette is the best site for opportunities, but its not free. Still, you can browse your options and see if anything piques your interests.

– Volunteer Travel

Although not all volunteer travel is free- it usually does give you access to cheaper room and board. But I would advise to do it only if you want to volunteer, not for the sole purpose of cheap lodging

College students can check out Alternative Breaks, and BootsnAll has a Volunteering Abroad Travel Guide that makes a good starting point for the rest of us.

– Be a Travel leader

For the experienced travelers. A free and great way to travel is to lead an expedition or lead a travel tour group (my friend Max just recently led a group up Kilimanjaro for the second time.) Look at tour operators like STA travel and  YMT Vacations are good starting points

It has been my mission for YEARS to debunk the myth that travel has to be expensive.

I traveled with 3 friends to seven European countries over 2.5 weeks and spent under $1500 USD on the trip per person.

Travel CAN be affordable and more often than not, even without slumming it, its cheaper to be traveling than to stay living in a city in the US!

Hopefully this article can be a great resource to start your travel planning on the cheap!


Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published.